Kerala will shortly have not less than 142 full-fledged child-friendly police stations (CFPS), giving it a head start over the rest of the country in child-centric policing.
The necessary infrastructure with the right ambience has been readied in these stations, which are in various stages of their transition into child-friendly ones. An extensive training has been designed in association with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for enhancing skill sets and bringing about attitudinal and mindset changes in officers entrusted with managing the stations.
The move assumes significance at a time when the Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the States/Union Territories to appoint a child welfare police officer (CWPO) in every police station to exclusively deal with children, either as victims or perpetrators.
“A State-level workshop was held to design a training module, and 90 State-level resource persons have been identified for training 10,000 police personnel. The larger goal is to turn all police stations in the State child-friendly in due course,” said P. Vijayan, Inspector General and Director of Social Policing Division.
The whole concept of CFPS goes beyond merely improving the physical ambience of the police station but proposes a paradigm shift where it is supposed to fill five different roles as the situation demands — that of an enforcer of children’s rights, a mentor, a promoter of child rights, a knowledge and reference centre for all activities related to care and protection of children, and a facilitator for inter-agency partnerships and civil society engagement.
“As an enforcer of children’s rights, a police officer should have in-depth knowledge about the legal aspects and the processes involved. A CFPS should also serve as a repository of laws, procedures, and case studies with respect to child-related laws,” said Mr. Vijayan.
He said merely appointing a CWPO would not work but what was needed was a change in the behaviour and attitude of police personnel prioritising atrocities against children and putting care, protection, and development of children at the centre of policing. “Leaving the physical, mental and psychological injuries sustained during childhood unresolved can lead to behavioural disorders and even lead them to the world of crime in the future,” said Mr. Vijayan.